Mayor suggests non-resident rate for Delta recreation centres
Increased rates for Delta outsiders would affect nearby areas like Surrey, Richmond and Tsawwassen First Nation
Reported by Cameron Thomson
Delta’s new mayor plans to set higher rates at recreation centres for people coming from outside the city.
Delta’s newly elected mayor, George Harvie, told the Delta Optimist last week that he would ensure there is a separate rate for people outside of Delta using recreation facilities in the city’s major neighbourhoods of Tsawwassen, Ladner and North Delta. Jurisdictions near Delta that Harvie said would be affected are Tsawwassen First Nation, Richmond and Surrey.
The reason for the suggestion
Delta’s previous mayor of nearly 20 years and current Delta council member, Lois Jackson, said the move to charge different fees will address a problem that has suddenly surfaced.
“What has happened in the past year and a bit is all our programs are all full and, upon analysis, there’s many people in the programs that don’t live in Delta but Delta people want to get in the programs,” Jackson said.
This issue is less pronounced in areas like Tsawwassen but more prominent in the part of Delta that borders Surrey.
“The folks in North Delta are becoming very concerned that they aren’t able to get into their own facilities that they’re paying for, and other people from outside the area that aren’t using their tax dollars to keep the buildings up and so on are getting the first pick at our programming or our facilities,” Jackson said.
While there are no recreation centres in Tsawwassen First Nation, Delta has six. Half of Delta’s recreation centres are in North Delta and are close to the Surrey border. Surrey has a total of seven recreational centres spread evenly throughout the city.
Recreation rates in other cities
In Delta, Surrey and Richmond, the adult drop-in fees are nearly identical, with Surrey and Delta charging $7 per person and Richmond charging $6.90.
Nicole Okano, a resident of Richmond who uses Delta’s Sungod recreation centre, along with her children, said she is simply choosing the closest option.
“Sungod is the closest community centre for me, Richmond is not. I’m just going by location that’s the most convenient for my family so obviously I don’t want to see my rates go up.”
Sanjay Bandey, who also uses the Sungod Recreation Centre along with his family, would not like to see an increase in rates.
“I think it would be unfair to increase the rate for someone who is not from Delta. It should be a fair game because the prices are already fairly high,” Bandey said.
Choosing not to use facilities due to overuse
But Manav Bhardwaj, a resident of North Delta, believes there should be a way to deter the perceived heavy use of Delta facilities by outsiders.
“I don’t use any of the facilities in Delta anymore because it’s just not worth it because it’s just so busy, and if we are getting other people from other municipalities coming in and using the facilities then maybe we should charge them a premium,” Bhardwaj said.